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Black Business Hub gets $2.5 million from Ascendium

Dr Ruben Anthony, left, with Ascendium board member Roger Ervin, at the site of the Black Business Hub. Photo by Robert Chappell.

The Urban League of Greater Madison announced in a press conference Monday that higher education company Ascendium had committed $2.5 million toward construction of the Black Business Hub on South Park Street, bringing funding for the project to within $800,000 of its initial goal.

The project, set to begin occupancy for some tenants this summer, will serve as a retail, office and coworking space for Black-owned businesses and agencies dedicated to supporting them. The four-story, 76,000-square-foot facility is taking shape at the corner of South Park Street and Hughes Place. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and Summit Credit Union will both be anchor tenants.

The Black Business Hub. Photo by Robert Chappell.

“It’s just overwhelming to know that we’ve got support from the corporate community,” ULGM CEO Dr. Ruben Anthony said. “We’ve got support from philanthropy, we got support from nonprofit organizations, and then we got the grassroot people contributing as well. Who would have ever expected that things could come together so fast and so nicely, but it can only happen that way because we do have a wide variety of support.”

The $2.5 million from Ascendium, a higher education loan servicer, leaves only $800,000 left to raise for the initial construction. ULGM will continue to fundraise to compensate for inflation and to fund improvements for individual tenant offices and retail spaces.

The Hub will also be home to an entrepreneurial accelerator and other programs to support as many as 100 Black-owned businesses, the Urban League has said.

“Our goal is to enable more opportunities for low income learners, and those who are looking for a second chance, a second opportunity to take advantage of economic growth,” said Roger Ervin, a member of the board of Ascendium. 

Ascendium and other businesses have also supported other projects on Madison’s south side, including the Center for Black Excellence and Culture and a new home for Centro Hispano.

“This is part of a renaissance,” Anthony said. “all these different assets coming up and the physical assets coming up can transform the landscape. Not only will it transform the landscape, but all the different services from cultural services that the Center for Black excellence will provide, the bilingual services that Centro Hispano will provide, and the economic development opportunities that’s going to be provided over here (at the Black Business Hub). It is going to make a difference for families here in this community, in this region, for many decades to come.”